Revolution in the Revolution. Webster University presents a series showcasing Soviet cinema from 1959-1970. This week features Gleb Panfilov's Debut (1970), a portrait of Pasha, an aspiring young actress without apparent talent. Chronologically disjointed (Panfilov's assertion of creativity and resistance), Debut intercuts Pasha's film role as a noble Joan of Arc with her melodramatic personal life in which she attaches herself to another woman's husband. Reacting against the prescribed agitprop of the USSR's social realist cinema, Panfilov avoids grand gestures technically and thematically. In nicely composed scenes with one character often blocked from view, he keeps his lens in close and his attention on small details -- a dinner, a dance, a small apartment, babysitting for a friend. Of more interest for what it doesn't show (no idealized comrades fight capitalism), Debut proves that a communist woman's life can be as conflicted, boring and self-indulgent as a capitalist's. A work of artistic rebellion doesn't necessarily produce exciting cinema even as it reveals the particulars of one Soviet life. In Russian with English subtitles. Plays at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Webster University. (DC)
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